Father Ignatius was washing his car in the church’s car park one afternoon when he was approached by a young lady wearing a low-cut T-shirt, a short skirt, and knee-length boots.
“Are you the priest that works in this church?” she asked.
He was still wearing his white collar and replied, “I am the Parish priest. How may I help you?”
“Can we speak privately please?” she asked again.
Father Ignatius put down the bucket of water and invited her into the Parish house. He sat at his desk in his office and she made herself comfortable in the armchair by the window.
After a short silence she said, “This isn’t easy for me …”
“Take your time,” replied Father Ignatius gently.
“Don’t know where to start …”
“Start at the beginning … what can I do to help?”
“I serve drinks at the Bitten Apple Night Club … I’m a barmaid … they call me Cocktail Queen …” she interrupted.
The priest nodded and said nothing, encouraging her to go on.
“Have you been there? The Bitten Apple … just by the cinema?”
“No, I’ve never been there,” he answered calmly, and wondering where all this is leading to.
“If you ever want to go let me know … I can let you in without paying the entrance fee … get in at the back …”
“Well … that won’t be necessary,” hesitated Father Ignatius, still wondering what this young lady wanted.
“I’m not a bad person you know … people look at me and think I’m a bad person!”
“I’m not here to judge you,” he answered, still remaining calm to help her say what she had on her mind.
“This is very difficult, but I have to tell you because I believe in God and all that …” she stopped for a few seconds and sighed. He let her pause for a while until she continued, “I’m pregnant … there I said it!”
“That’s good news … isn’t it?” he said with a smile.
“A nuisance more like … it’ll interfere with my work … and my boy-friend is mad about it. It’ll be Christmas soon … and a right present he’s given me!”
“I see …”
“Well he said we should get rid of it … he is willing to pay and all. If I don't get rid of it he'll leave me. And I love him, you see. I was wondering whether God would forgive me if I got rid of it … because I can’t give up work you see.”
“What you intend to do is kill a living human being; and you are asking me to condone it. Do you realise what it is you intend to do?” said Father Ignatius sternly.
“I’m asking for forgiveness,” she said, “I was brought up Catholic years ago as a child, although I don’t go to church now. I’m too busy you see. I was told if you confess your sins the priest has to forgive you.”
“It doesn’t work quite like that …” he said hiding his temporary loss of patience. “You can’t ask for forgiveness for something you’re about to do. Something which you know is wrong; and yet you intend to do it all the same.”
“It's either that or I lose my job and lose my boy-friend. Then where will I be?”
“You do realize what abortion is Miss, do you not?” he asked gently trying to calm down the situation before it got out of hand. “It is the ending of a life. It is not a matter to be considered lightly and in a cavalier way as you and your boy friend seem to think. I do not believe that it is right, and I must advise you against it in the strongest way possible. I urge you to re-consider what you’re intending to do …”
She looked at her watch and interrupted him once again, “Do you think if I go to another church the vicar there would forgive me?”
It was obvious that she was not listening and that her mind was made up. All she needed was re-assurance from the church, or any representative of a Deity she happened to vaguely believe in, that what she was doing was right.
“I doubt that you will find any vicar or priest who would …”
“I’ll have to go now,” she said looking at her watch again, “I’m on at the Bitten Apple in half-an-hour!”
“Before you go, just wait a second … I’d like you to get in contact with these people if you can. They may be able to help you. They will talk to you about your pregnancy, but I must tell you, they will never agree to you having an abortion. On the contrary, they will help you see what a gift you have living within you right now …”
“Whatever … I’ll think about it … I don’t think they’ll help … I just have to get rid of it. I’m not into having babies and all that …” she said taking the card from his hand and making her way out.
As he saw her leave Father Ignatius prayed silently for that living human being threatened with death before breathing his first breath.
All that happened some months ago and the priest never met the young lady again … until yesterday.
He was at the supermarket and about to pay for his purchases when the cashier recognized him. She told him that the baby is six months old now, and that she gave up work at the night club and was now working at the supermarket and living with her boy-friend, the baby’s father.
As he drove away the priest praised God for saving the unborn-child and prayed that maybe … one day … this young family may get to know and love the Lord.
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